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The Black Death: Natural and Human Disater in Medieval Europe
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The Black Death: Natural and Human Disater in Medieval Europe

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  289 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
A fascinating work of detective history, The Black Death traces the causes and far-reaching consequences of this infamous outbreak of plague that spread across the continent of Europe from 1347 to 1351.

A fascinating work of detective history, The Black Death traces the causes and far-reaching consequences of this infamous outbreak of plague that spread across the continent
Paperback, 203 pages
Published March 1st 1985 by Free Press (first published 1983)
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Jessica Malice
Sep 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fictitious
I started reading this because it was on my bookshelf. Whence did it come there? I think I must have gotten it from a Lifeline Bookfest years ago.

Anyway I read it until about chapter 5, at which point the (what I figured to be) outdated research (it being published in 1983) started bugging me enough to find a more modern book. I began reading The Black Death which, as it was referenced more often than any other lay black death history, I surmised must be better.

Well I am only halfway through Zie
Wednesday Mourning
All though a interesting read it focused more on actual figures than personal stories.
It appeared to be a general reader on the subject but ended up being a hard facts books akin to a textbook on the Black Death. After reading several pages of percentages and geographical facts my head was spinning..but I did manage to glean some very interesting facts from it:
The Y.Pestis bacilli naturally lives in some species of rat's stomachs but does not affect other animals unless the flea is 'blocked"..a
D Cox
Oct 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Geography and statistics one other reviewer wrote and I agree. This is a good source of factual information on the plague's origin and advance and impact on Europe. It's not a collection of anecdotes and human stories. I knew nothing at all about 14c plague and I now feel very well informed. An educating easy to read book.
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
If you can plow through the statistics and the geography, this is a fascinating description of all the factors surrounding the recurrent plague epidemics of 1347-late 1400s.
Anne Holmes
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting book.

I enjoyed this book very much and it treats the subject in much greater depth than others I have read on the subject.
Kevin A.
Dec 26, 2014 rated it liked it
A broad overview of the effects of the plague on 14th and 15th century Europe. (Gottfried makes mention of Egypt, the "people of the Steppes," and the Ottomans, but mostly this is England, France, Germany and Italy.)

It's almost impossible to conceive of an epidemic where a society would lose 15-40% of its population in a matter of weeks and months, and the plague kept periodically reappearing until the 17th century. Europe, which was teetering on the edge of overpopulation, didn't recover its p
Feb 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While an interesting (if not terribly-jolly) read, this work seems more of a study on the available actuarial tables of the period in question, than a treatise on the plagues/pandemics themselves. As another reviewer commented, there are very few personal stories, and almost no treatment of the medical facts themselves: the etiology of Y. pestis, transfer mechanisms, physiological effects, etc. Still, an Excellent treatment of societal and demographic results. Recommended, if you want a good sta ...more
A solid overview of the impact of the Black Death on the society, politics, economy and culture of Europe into the sixteenth century. Argues that it was sufficiently massive a crisis that it irrevocably altered European society, breaking down older bonds and forms of social organization, the recreation of which ultimately led to the construction of a modern European society. Not entirely convincing in many aspects, but does capture the major demographic, epidemiological, and cultural shifts that ...more
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
I read this for a European History course and I was quite surprised on how much I ended up enjoying the read and how great the book paired with the class. I few things I did find troubling at first was how fast the dates, numbers, and information was thrown at you, though I begin to appreciate this as it paints an overwhelming picture on just how quickly the bacterium spread. I wish the author had been able to write more "first-hand" accounts and personal stories, as the few that are presented a ...more
Susan Olesen
Dec 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Dull and scholarly, it nonetheless presents some fascinating ideas on how the Black Death and subsequent depopulation changed the face of history, economically, medically, philosophically, and politically. If you can get through the dullness, the material really was quite interesting, and made me think and reexamine many things. Not your average beach read, but if you're into the topic for whatever reason, it's worth your while.
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this book as a kid and it started a fascination with epidemiology and the social consequences of epidemics that persists to this day. It presents the plague in the context of the economic and social conditions of the time and includes quotes from contemporary sources that convey the devastating effect the plague had. Although it's only 203 pages long the book is a well-researched and comprehensive account of this turning point in history.
May 16, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not that it wasn't a well researched and thorough book, and not that he didn't make a good argument for the centrality of The Black Death as a turning point in Mediterranean history...still the best thing about it was the cover. Interminable statistics, prosaic writing, and some repetitiveness made it a pleasure to finish. If one were a medievalist working on The Black Death, one would want to read this book. No one else should bother.
Sep 18, 2012 rated it liked it
If you have any fantasies about life in the middle ages this book will end them. Life was hard and short and then came the plague which killed half the population of Europe. The plus side is in the long term it allowed the modern world to come together as the old medieval society could no longer function but it seems like a damned hard way to do it.
Jul 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: medical
Well written historical account of the plagues that swept Europe and Asia throughout the 13th, 14th & 15th centuries and how these plagues impacted socio-economics as well as medicine. The author has no doubt invested years of research into the subject.
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Overall, this is a good book. It had too much academic jargon, making it inaccessible for some readers, but it was still well written. A very relevant book considering the swine flu and possible consequences of a pandemic in the 21st century.
Travis Gallagher
Apr 14, 2011 rated it liked it
I still look back on this book and am amazed at the amount of research that the author put into this piece. The book isn't particularly interesting but it is loading with facts that really bring the sheer amount of chaos that the plague brought to the edges of the pages.
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Subject was interesting.
Reminded me a little of a text book I might have read while in school.
Damian Contreras
this book explains the infamous plague the effected eastern Europe and how it change the Europe forever. it also great to read when focusing the key cause of the dark ages

Annie Perriment
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating reading for anyone with an interest in medieval history or historical epidemiology.
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interesting reading. It gave a good picture of the events and the consequenses.
Mohamed Eldezel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sara W
Feb 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book has some very interestng parts, but there are SO MANY statistics in the text that the good parts get lost.
Christopher Fox
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it
A quick, exhaustive survey of the title subject and while parts of it are interesting and good for research, the preponderance of dates and statistics makes for a dreary casual read.
Nov 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the time I read this book I was very interested in Epidemiology, so I really enjoyed it at the time I read it. I wonder if someone not interested in epidemiology would find it dry at times....
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Interesting overview of the various plagues that hit Europe from the 1300's to the mid 1400's. Good tsart point for the curious. Notes are good.
Dry but full of interesting factoids.
Lucy Zhang
rated it it was ok
Sep 04, 2014
rated it really liked it
Nov 12, 2014
rated it liked it
Feb 28, 2013
Hazim Ismail
rated it it was amazing
Oct 09, 2016
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“Plague did not honor social class, and mortality among the nobility approximated that of the general population.” 1 likes
“but pauperization cut into the spending power of all but the elite. Demand from great lords for luxury goods remained high, but many gentlemen and bourgeois suffered along with the peasants as food costs took an ever-higher proportion of their incomes.” 0 likes
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